From September 1986 to March 1990, a refugee from the planet Melmac found a refuge for laughs with the Tanner family. The puppet was created by Paul Fusco, and he admitted it was hard for him to move the alien life form around on set.
“It was a great deal of work for everyone,” he explained to People in June 2000. “ALF could never go out.” Since the set was marked with strategically placed hand holes that had to be hidden, Paul, 67, could never move ALF around the way he desired. However, Max Wright — who played Willie Tanner on the show — believed everything came out nicely.
“ALF was funny and full of invention. His movement was so expressive that once I actually could see the puppet blush,” he said. But the one thing Max would have changed about the series is how his character got along with the extraterrestrial. “Max had a difficult thing to do, playing straight man against ALF,” Paul said.
After realizing there wasn’t much he could do with the script, Max tried his best to play Willie the way the show’s creators, Paul and Tom Patchett, wanted. “There was great chemistry between Max’s character and ALF,” the puppeteer noted. But by the time the show reached its fourth season, the Norm star had had enough.
“I was hugely eager to have it over with,” Max admitted.
ALF was never renewed for a fifth season. After the show ended in 1990, the cast went their separate ways. On the last night of filming, Anne Schedeen — who played Kate Tanner — remembered, “there was one take, and Max walked off the set, went to his dressing room, got his bags, went to his car and disappeared.”
She added, “Nobody had to say ‘Wrap,’ and there were no goodbyes.”
At the time, Max was happy to leave the show behind. It wasn’t until he got older that he realized what a joy it was to work on ALF. “It doesn’t matter what I felt or what the days were like,” he said. “ALF brought people a lot of joy. They adored it.”
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